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Our kitchen is probably the room in the house that we need to organise and declutter most. It sees the most traffic, especially since I’ve been on maternity leave. I’m in and out all day, making food for me, food for the baby, sterilising bottles etc so as you can imagine it has the tendency to get untidy quite often and quite quickly.
It became so difficult for me to keep on top of, that it actually started to make me feel stressed every time I needed to go in there. I felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff everywhere – cluttered sides, a full draining board, food that didn’t fit into cupboards sat on the sides, baby stuff everywhere, recycling, dirty dishes. It just seemed never ending.
So back in March, when we had that freak snowstorm which resulted in snowdrifts which covered doors and were stuck in the house for a few days, I decided it was time to tackle it properly, to stop stressing over it and do something about it.
Fortunately for me, my sister had come to visit and was stuck with us, so I handed the baby over to hubby for the day and put my sister to good use, and we went through the entire room, top to bottom. Each and every cupboard and shelf was emptied, cleaned, decluttered and reorganised.
And I’m happy to say that despite the fact we spent almost an entire morning and afternoon doing it, it was 100% worthwhile as the kitchen has stayed organised and takes minutes to get looking neat and tidy again (how clean it is is questionable – the oven could do with a deep clean I’m sure and the floors need washing more frequently… but it looks clean. I am particular about the sides, hob and sink though!)
So how do you go about decluttering and organising your kitchen? Here’s what I learnt.
Sure doing a drawer here and there when you have a spare 5 minutes will improve the situation, but you’re going to get the best results and want to maintain it, if you can transform the whole room in one sitting. Take a few hours out and just get it done in one fell swoop.
Don’t be tempted to pull everything out of everywhere in one go. Trust me, it won’t make sure you get the job done, you will shove it back and it will become overwhelming. Stick some music on and go through one area at a time. Have a few boxes and bags at the ready – Recycle, Donate, Bin… and also have a bag or box for items you are keeping but don’t actually live in the kitchen and need to be put away later.
When I was going through my cupboards I found myself putting things back and then questioning why. For example, we don’t have a lot of storage in the rest of the house, but had an empty kitchen cupboard, so I had stored the base that came with our TV (it’s wall mounted now) in there ‘in case we needed it’ – why were we going to need it? The TV is on the wall. We don’t have room for a TV cabinet and we’re not intending to move in the near future, so what is this ‘just in case’ I was holding out for? The TV is old and will probably need to be replaced before we ever put it back on it’s stand.
BIN IT. Likewise the broken iron I had put in a cupboard. Why? It doesn’t work. GET RID.
The same when you get to your food cupboards – why are you putting that packet back that’s been in there months that no one likes and is never going to eat. DONATE.
Think about how many items you actually need. We have a mish mash of dinnerware, and though there’s only two of us (adults) it didn’t make sense for me to cull the plates, as we quite often have family round and can be feeding up to 12 people. However, we didn’t need 20+ mugs nor did we need 3 bottle openers, two tin openers and 2 corkscrews.
When a cupboard or drawer is empty, give it a good clean. Get rid of any crumbs and give them a wipe down. As you clear surfaces, clean under where appliances have been sat. Give the tiles a good scrub. Clean your oven hood and those other areas don’t get attention very often. Deep clean your appliances while you’re at it. Empty the toaster crumbs, descale your kettle, clean the microwave, run the dishwasher on an empty hot wash with white vinegar. You’ll feel so much more satisfied when everything is organised AND clean.
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Before you start putting things back where they were, just because that’s where they’ve always lived, consider whether that’s the best place for them.
When I did my kitchen I relocated my Tea, Coffee etc. They had been living on the opposite side of the kitchen in canisters. I got rid of the canisters – they were cluttering up the sides and I didn’t even refill the coffee and sugar as they had gotten a bit grubby so they were absolutely pointless, they weren’t even particularly decorative. I moved it all to the cupboard above the kettle and next door to the cupboard which houses mugs. It’s much more logical, all the tea making stuff is together and within easy reach of the kettle.
Before you spend money on products to ‘help’ you organise, think about whether they’re worthwhile. I’d love to have a pinterest worthy pantry and all my products decanted into glass jars but do I need them? My money would be put to better use elsewhere, so I don’t want to waste it buying organisation and storage products.
Think about how you can make an area work better for you. Assess where your problems are, your daily annoyances and think about how you can correct them.
For me I have my condiments and spices in a high cupboard and being able to see what I had was a pain as I’d be feeling around blindly and grabbing a random jar (usually the wrong one)
To solve this I used cheap baskets I already had and put the spices in them, then put them back on the shelf – now I can take the whole basket out, find what I’m looking for with ease and put it back.
I got mine from Wilkos but you can get small baskets from Poundland too.
I also use the tubs that washing liquitabs come in and I put my open packets into empty baby formula tins (such as flour and porridge oats)
Another issue was storing sports bottles as they didn’t fit the cupboard with the lids on. Again I used a small basket, removed all the lids and put them in there, now I just take the basket out and find the lid I need instead of having bottles led on their sides which roll out everytime I open the cupboard.
Store items you rarely use in harder to reach places (such as corner cupboards or the back of cupboards) and anything you use often to the front.
My under sink cupboard houses my cleaning products. Since I organised it, it stays tidy, because I’m no longer searching for products.
Stuff I don’t use often, such as car cleaning products, anti mould spray etc is at the back of the cupboard. Sprays I reach for daily are at the front. Black bags, recycling bags, nappy sacks and dog poo bags are in a basket with the small hoover attachments, and another basket houses sponges and cloths. I added a carrier bag holder to the door for plastic bags, and a hook for the dustpan and brush.
Again, it could be more organised – but I didn’t want to spend money on doing so.
Once your cupboards and drawers have been culled and reorganised, assess your surface space. Do you really need everything on your sides? Is it really worth cleaning around all these things?
It’s much harder to keep the sides clean when there are lots of nooks and crannies for crumbs to hide in and behind.
When I reassessed my surfaces, I decided to get rid of tea/coffee/sugar pots and put them in the cupboard. Then I got rid of my mug tree – I already had an adequate supply of mugs in a cupboard.
Next I got rid of my bread bin – I bought one because kitchens always have them but whenever we used it, we’d forget about the bread in it and always end up throwing away mouldy loaves.
I said goodbye to my knife block and put the knives in my cutlery drawer and instead of hooking teatowels over cupboard doors or on the oven handle, I stuck a hook inside a cupboard and hooked it on there instead. The washing up liquid that lived on the sink was put under the sink and all the baby stuff (except the steriliser) was rehoused in a freed up drawer.
I also got rid of my toaster – it was a 4 slice toaster, but 2 of them didn’t work, and since we usually toast 4 pieces at the same time, we were using the grill. Pointless hanging onto appliances you don’t use! I also put my slow cooker in a cupboard, as we don’t use it much in the summer.
The clearer your surfaces are, the less time you’ll spend clearing them.
Once you have been through your kitchen from top to bottom, it becomes so much easier to manage. Although I am constantly making improvements and finding more items to declutter, or better ways to organise an area; overall the space is not a mess and no longer overwhelms me when I enter it.
Cleaning up takes no time at all and clear spaces are so much more satisfying to look at than clutter.
When I’m looking for something, I can find it with ease and food shopping is easier to unpack as I’m no longer dealing with jam packed cupboards and trying to find any available space.
It’s now one of the most satisfying rooms to clean, rather than a thing of dread… Though I do want to give it a makeover – it’s neat and tidy, but it’s ugly haha.
I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about making extra money, saving money, getting my life organised and being a new mum. Join me!